Game 8: Washington vs. No. 2 Kansas – Preview and Prediction

The Jayhawks return to the Sprint Center for their annual “home away from home” game, with this year’s contest being against Washington.

Kansas is coming off an impressive 76-60 victory over ACC foe Syracuse on Saturday night, a game that featured senior Devonte’ Graham posting his second-straight 35-point effort. The Jayhawks will now come “home,” aka the Sprint Center, to take on a new-look Washington Huskies squad that is sitting at 6-2 in the early going.

About Washington: Even with No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, the Huskies won just nine games a season ago. The abysmal season led to the firing of long-time head coach Lorenzo Romer and the hiring of long-time Jim Boeheim disciple Mike Hopkins. With the loss of Romer, the Huskies also saw a commit from No. 1 recruit Michael Porter Jr. (who eventually landed at Missouri) go by the wayside. So far this season Washington is 6-2, but the two losses have come against their two toughest opponents (Providence & Virginia Tech). They do have a win over Belmont, who is usually one of the better mid-major programs.

Game Info and Notes:

  • Wednesday, December 5th, 2017 at 8:00 pm CT
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
  • ESPN2 or the WatchESPN app
  • Kansas leads the all-time series 8-1, with KU winning the last meeting in November 2008, 73-54, which was also also at the Sprint Center
  • This will be Kansas’ 44th game at the Sprint Center
  • The first RPI rankings came out this week and the Jayhawks were ranked 4th
  • The Jayhawks are one of 12 NCAA Division I teams that still hold an undefeated record
  • Five Jayhawk starters are averaging double figures in scoring (Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick, Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman and Devonte’ Graham); Graham leading the way at 18.6 PPG, Mykhailiuk is next 17.1 PPG.
  • Graham posted a career-high 35 points last week against Toledo and then matched it on Saturday against Syrcause, helping him earn Big 12 Player of the Week
  • Graham ranks fifth nationally in assists, averaging 8.0 APG
  • Azubuike ranks second in the NCAA in FG%, shooting 77% from the field
  • Graham has tallied 51 assists in his first six games of the season and is second in the Big 12, fifth nationally, with 8.5 assists per game.
  • The Jayhawks are averaging 91.9 PPG as a team, which second in the Big 12 and sixth nationally. The last time Kansas averaged 90 points in a season was back in 2001-2002, a year that ended with a Final Four trip
Huskies to Watch

Jaylen Nowell – 6’4″ freshman, guard

It’s another freshman that leads the way for the Huskies this season, this time in the form of Nowell. Nowell leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.9 points per contest. The freshman can fill it up. He started the season off with three-straight 20-point performances. Nowell is not going to beat you with the jump shot; he’s shooting just 26% from long-range. He’s going to get his points off drives and free-throws. Look for Graham or Newman to garner the matchup here.

Noah Dickerson – 6’8″ junior, forward

Dickerson is Washington’s best rebounder. Last season he led the team with 8.0 RPG and this season has slightly bumped up that average to 8.6. He’s also helping out with 14.6 PPG. Over the last three games Dickerson is averaging 19.3 PPG and hauling in 8.3 RPG. Last time out Kansas did a good job of handling Syracuse’s best big in Oshae Brissett, while he had 13 points and nine boards, he didn’t seem to have much impact on the game. As usual, Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot have to stay out of foul trouble.

David Crisp – 6’0″ junior, guard

Crisp is coming off a season-high 24 points last time out against Nebraska-Omaha. He’s third on the team in scoring at 13.3 PPG. He also leads the team in assists with a mere 3.0 APG. He’s only shooting 31% from the three-point land, so like Nowell he’s not going to get his points via the jump shot.

Prediction

Kansas 87 – Washington 65

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

With Mike Hopkins being a Boeheim disciple, expect Washington to play a similar style to Syracuse. The difference is that the Huskies aren’t as long and athletic as the Orange are. Washington also doesn’t really have anyone to combat Azubuike on the inside. They have only one player over 6’8″ and that is Sam Timmins, who is only averaging 17.6 minutes per game.

I thought the Jayhawks played pretty well against Syracuse’s zone, as they sank 11 three-pointers. I expect KU’s shooting to exploit the Washington defense. I like KU to score and score a lot. The Huskies are giving up 78.6 PPG, which is tied for 290th nationally. That is obviously not good and doesn’t bode well against a team who scores like Kansas. Lastly, while Washington does average over 80 points per game, they haven’t faced a defense like Kansas’. I like KU to win this one handily.

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I’m from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I’m a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They’ll always come No.1.